Monday, September 15, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS AND HOLES IN THE GROUND.



Who pays much attention to a small hole in the ground? Especially when you have stupid colonies of moles burrowing under your front yard or visiting armadillos that love to dig small holes foraging for food after dark and get all your dogs going because they can see them. 

Obviously, we don’t pay a great deal of attention to them.


My husband decided the grass needed mowing after a week of rain. Yeah, the grass was definitely growing tall even though it had been cut two weeks before. We usually mow the grass about every week when we get a lot of rain and every other week when it’s drier. We don’t use a push mower because our yard takes up almost an acre. We have a riding mower. Love my John Deere.

Since I had to work most of this weekend Dan decided to do the mowing Sunday afternoon and told me to go take a nap. Perfect suggestion to me, thanks honey. When I’m tired I tend to nap about an hour and a half and I sleep pretty deep and I was very tired. I fell asleep to the sounds of the mower and the smell of cut grass.

An hour later I’m suddenly awakened by screams. To be precise my husband’s screams of pain. That’s a heart-thumping guarantee to awaken anyone. One moment you’re asleep and the next you’re hyper alert and ready for battle. Having the Danes go off with serious barking didn't help. By the time I get out of the bed room Dan had made it to the north side of the house, still screaming, and around to back. I look out the window and the mower is abandoned but upright. My mind has a couple of seconds to figure out the probable cause of the ruckus. Bees. Well, to be specific, yellow jackets.

Sure enough, he has a small cloud of them flying behind him. I had no idea if he hit a ground nest or there was a nest in branches of the lilac bushes that go across the front of the yard. Dan made it to the back door and dashed in. Yellow Jackets pinged against the glass door. 

I had already gotten down the antihistamines and starting a bowl of baking powder paste. He’s not allergic to bee stings but I would rather err on the side of caution and I didn't know how many stings he actually had. Fortunately Dan had on heavy denim knee length shorts and a thick work shirt with a double thick yoke across the back of his shoulders and a good-sized collar. The Yellow Jackets couldn't really penetrate the material well enough to do any real damage and the collar mostly protected the back of his neck and shoulders. He always wears a hat (and glasses) so his face and eyes were safe. There were a few of the nasty things tangled in the thick hair near the back of his neck. We had to get those out. He had several stings on that part of his scalp. Tore the heck out of his lower arm and got him pretty good on one calf and knee. Maybe four or five bites. Most had been on his shoulders where, thankfully, he was protected.

It was a ground nest. Now keep in mind we mow frequently. No attacks two weeks ago when he mowed the same area and in the same way. So either it’s a new nest or more likely, the nest had been there but not on the area we mow but had grown toward the yard since the last time we mowed and with a new entry way there.

Dan’s cussing a blue moon and threatening fire (he’s a secret pyromaniac) and destruction once the sentries went to ground. I’m having a vision of a major fire in the front yard with Dan chanting, burn baby burn

Um, no, sweetheart, no gas and no fire. 

We need to see where the entries are and we can use hot mint soapy water—like we have on a few nests in the past. It works fine and mint oil is very effective in killing bugs or wasps. Then he remembered he had two cans of wasp/bee stream shooters. So he did that followed up with water. Hopefully it worked. I don’t like pesticides because of the animals and if they were to walk in it… and I’m highly allergic to them.

A few years back we had a huge ground nest in the far back corner of the yard. It had several entryways. We figured it was at least four foot wide underground. All I know is it took a long time for the fire to burn out. It’s not good for the ground but Dan had waited until I went somewhere, to grocery store I think, to do the deed. I’d have pitched a fit had I been there.

So the moral of this story is to pay attention to holes in the ground and scope them out to see if there is wasp activity. If there is proceed with caution especially when mowing in the spring or fall. Yellow Jackets are very aggressive in the fall as food becomes less plentiful.


Dan was fortunate because it could have been oh, so much more serious. If he hadn't quickly recognized what was happening and high tailed it out of the area he could have had hundreds of stings instead of fifteen or twenty of them and be spending the night in the hospital instead of snoozing in his recliner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

CAROL KILGORE INTRODUCING KAT MARENGO




Hi! I’m Kat Marengo, and I live in the soon-to-be-released novel SECRETS OF HONOR. I’m here to dish on Carol Kilgore, the author who created me.

Well, Carol thinks she created me, but we both know better. I found her mind floating up in the clouds one day and hopped inside. Omigosh, what a mess!

She kept tossing things in and other things out. I got hit with a couple of pillows and had to dodge a toy truck before I realized she was searching for Christmas gifts. See, I arrived between books.

Once I caught on to how she thought, the rest was easy. I started tossing in things I liked, and I knew the minute she realized I was there. Then I messed with her head for a while before I introduced myself.

Of course once I did, she tried to take over. Carol initially wanted me to be an antihero with a little ink and some piercings. I laughed and told her she needed to chill. It might’ve been fun, but my mama would've pitched one big hissy fit if she’d seen me that way. 

Besides, while I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself in most situations, I’m a little bit girly-girl, too. So Carol listened to reason. She also heard me when I said I'd really a man in my life. The minute I laid eyes on Dave Krizak, I didn't know who to hug first–him or Carol. How she knew I wanted someone and with muscles and blue eyes, I don't know. She read my mind as easily as I read hers.

Besides Dave Krizak, who’s in a whole class all by himself, SECRETS OF HONOR was so much fun. I got to show off some of my skills, and one of my new dresses. We had a huge mission to accomplish, and our team came right together. We like to take all the credit, but to be fair, Carol may have had a hand in making sure our work paid off.

I told her if she ever wanted to write a sequel, I’m all in. She said she’d remember that and let me know if that time ever came up. One thing about Carol – she plays her cards close to her chest. She’s a Scorpio, you know. They’re like that.

Oops, would you look at the time. I gotta run. Meeting Dave, Peter, and Remy at Parrot Cay – it’s the best bar for our kind here in San Juan.

What are we doing in San Juan?

I may talk a lot, but I don’t share secrets, especially SECRETS OF HONOR.

                                                                                                                                                  

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for. 

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.





Although Carol has deep Texas roots, she’s lived up and down the eastern seaboard and in other locations across the U.S. as a Coast Guard wife. She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially those with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: EVER FELT LIKE A FRAUD?




Have you ever felt like a fraud? It’s a feeling I've been wrestling with the past few months.

I've written and told stories all my life. I've always had a project in progress. My creative mind usually leaps forward with more ideas than I have time to put on paper. This past couple of years I've not been as…active. So many other things, emotional and physical, have had to take precedence and by the time I deal those things writing just isn't the smooth flowing joy it has been. It’s become a chore and god knows I have wagon of chores and I cringe at another. I've never looked at my creative writing like that. A chore. *Shakes my head in dismay  

It's not to say I haven't written anything because I write a lot of things but majority is non-fiction and work oriented. Not the same thing. As far as creative writing most of it has been poetry which is a great way to put emotions into order, or so I've always felt.

I've had writing friends who've ridden me about stories I've written and why aren't I doing something with them. Bless their hearts, they mean well. They’re trying to motivate me, encourage me. I've done the same for them. Yes, I like the fact they've enjoyed reading my work and they feel it’s worth pursuing but…how do you tell them you just don’t feel like writing?  How do you say I look at this series and go meh? I can encourage others. I critique stories and proposals. I can crack the whip over them but I can’t seem to get ME going again. To find that inner fire. I feel like a fraud.

I've been thinking a lot about it lately. Haven’t found all the answers. I have had some creative ideas and those ideas were strong enough to shake me out of my…apathy? At least they excited me enough that I wrote a brief summary down and one is dancing around in my head where they usually play for awhile before making it to the writing stage. I consider that progress. I know part of the problem is finding that groove in time that belongs only to my muse and me. The other part is I’m chained to my computer so many hours in the course of the day the last thing I want to do is sit longer—I just want to escape. My schedule is so caddywumpus right now that I haven’t found that fun time for creating. I know I need to find it because I feel amputated without it.

My conclusion, after thinking about all this for some time, is I have to find a spot in my schedule that again belongs only to writing. Give myself permission to let go of everything for that time and just settle in and do. If I need to be away from my computer, and I do, then there is always a notebook and a pen. I can write anywhere, right? 

I’m working on it. J



Monday, September 1, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—HI-YO SILVER…


Welcome to September. Where the heck did the summer go? I hope you all had a good summer. Mine was far from the projected summer of relaxation and more balls to the wall busy. August has been intense training for a new aspect of my job while maintaining my normal work schedule. Insane.



Have you seen the new Lone Ranger movie? We saw it this past weekend on DVD. It's not a bad movie. Johnny Depp took a good role. Both my husband and I grew up watching The Lone Ranger and of course they were reruns on TV by the time we watched them. It was a special childhood memory for us both. So watching this movie elicited quite a discussion in the McKye household. Comparisons and memories.
There were a ton of westerns on when I grew up and my dad loved them. If you wanted to watch the one TV in our house you watched them, too.  My dad even had a western revolver with a gun belt and holster. Let me tell you, he practiced with that gun and was very fast on the draw and he was a good shot. Well, many a target died. J There were a couple of his friends that were big into that sort of thing, too. I still remember that gun with dark maroon cherry wood handles. It was fancy and my dad liked to dress in black when he practiced—the ultimate western fantasy. There is an old record album of Marty Robbins’ western ballads where he is dressed in all black in the middle of a draw—it’s on a dark pink background (seriously, pink?). We have a picture of my dad in a similar pose only he was much better looking than Marty and had a well developed chest and arms—he came by them honestly in construction. Made old Marty look a bit puny.  J

wiki commons
I've never been a big fan of westerns and I'm still not although there are a few I like. The Lone Ranger was okay. It was entertaining and I loved Tonto and Silver was the coolest horse ever. I liked the fact that the good guys won and that they were tough but honorable men who lived by a code.

Clayton Moore played a strong character and that character became an American icon. Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger (based on the original stories) was strong minded, heroic, and a tough man. He was larger than life. There was nothing wimpy about him. The Lone Ranger was an excellent marksman, he excelled in hand-to-hand combat, and in today’s standards he would be an
Public Domain
above average athlete. He was the last surviving member of a group of six Texas Rangers that were ambushed and killed by the outlaws they were chasing. His brother was the captain of the Ranger group—Captain Dan Reid. It was in honor of his brother that he wore the mask made from his brother’s vest and fought for justice.  

I don’t think the Lone Ranger ever killed anyone except, I think, by a ricochet shot. If you remember the silver bullets were a personal reminder to him that life was precious and not to be taken unnecessarily.  It seemed he was always disabling them without a killing shot or shooting the gun out of their hand (amazing how accurate he was considering those are some very hard shots to make). It was the times, folks. Good won and evil was never glorified and always lost.

 
Lone Ranger Wallpaper
I've seen a lot of negative comments on The Lone Ranger movie. Part of it was the way the way Armie Hammer portrayed the Lone Ranger. Kind of weak and wishy-washy—I know it annoyed me. Tonto irritated others. A couple that made me laugh was about the portrayal of Tonto vs Native American culture. No, it’s not particularly politically correct but we’re talking about the historical period of 1868. C’mon people, prejudice abounded in that time frame against Indians. Most Native-Americans were caught between their heritage and fitting into the white world. You can’t rewrite history as much as you might wish to and even in today’s era of politically correct verbiage, prejudice is still just hiding behind the words. If you have lived where there is an Indian reservation and/or a large population of Native-Americans, I can assure you there is still a certain disdain in the general populace. 

As writers we know if we're depicting a particular historical period there is a need for good research so you cover the mores, dress and accoutrements and at least the flavor of the vernacular of the times. I have several nitpicks along that line in The Lone Ranger movie but the most grating to me were the weapons. Most of the pistols used post Civil War were Dragoon .44 caliber conversions
take the old cap and ball and convert it to cartridge guns. Lot of experimental handguns in the late 1860's by both Remington and Colt. Some were fancy and engraved others just serviceable. Smith and Wesson got into the act in the 1870's onward.  I want to point out The Lone Ranger is using a colt in 1868 that wasn't made until 1876. Hello—fact checkers?

The movie itself was good. Cons: Lone Ranger was rather wimpy in the beginning and he’s sort of depicted as a city dude and wrongly as an attorney. He toughened up (but it took way too long since he should have been tough from outset) and became a hero. It had a bit more focus on Tonto then it should have and while he was always a main character in the original he never dwarfed the Lone Ranger. It wasn't Tonto and the Lone Ranger. The movie was a bit long and could have been edited a bit to give it a tighter storyline.

Still, it was entertaining, has some funny moments, and worth watching.


  • Have you seen it? What did you think?

       

Monday, August 25, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—FIRST YOU NEED A BUCKET OF ICE…



Then video camera…

Everywhere you look on social media or in the news there is someone doing the ice bucket challenge. Standing in one place and having a bucket of ice poured over the head. What in the world?

It’s an eye-catching gimmick but for a cause—raising money for a charitable cause or organizations.  The gimmick works because people want to see it and you-tube is full of them, neighborhoods and news media cover them, and the rich and the famous participate with the accompanying media. It draws the attention to various charities or community needs. 

Of course there are variations of it, like with actor and active member of the Louisiana police force, Orlando Jones, with his bucket of bullet casings. His challenge had to do with an issue rather than a charity. He said, in an interview, 
I wanted to do…talk about the insanity happening in Ferguson and just around the world. Those shell casings in my video represent the people who paid the ultimate cost for the freedoms we have today. I couldn’t find enough bullets to dump on myself to illustrate the number of people who gave their lives for a very important ideal.” 
- See more at: http://madamenoire.com/460952/bullet-bucket-challenge/#sthash.V96bbiKN.dpuf

Not a bad idea but it’s nothing new.


In the early 1900’s there was a practice of dunking, swimming, plunging into an icy body of water in the winter. Polar bear plunge certainly got attention and it also was used for charitable causes and usually had multiple participants and well publicized. A side note here is the polar bear plunge hasn’t been used just for raising money for a particular charity but held as a New Year tradition in many places of the world.

Communities have used a variation of it in fairs (and community street fairs) for charity. I’m sure you’ve seen the dunking booths. Usually someone of note from the community sits in a chair or on a bench and people pay a fee for the privilege of throwing a ball or series of balls at a target that releases the chair and drops the person into the water. In my neck of the woods when the police chief took a turn in the chair (several community leaders take a turn on that day) there was quite a windfall of funds raised. Hey, work out your aggressions in a safe manner and raise money at the same time? A good thing and I have to say, I was impressed with how accurate the participants were and how much time the chief spent in the dunking pool Lol! All the money raised by selling those balls to throw go to a designated community need—might be for the local school or library, build a community park, adding funds for the operation of the fire department, for repairing damage from storms, and that’s just a few reasons my town held them.


  • What about you? What do you think about this latest craze?

  • Have you done the ice-bucket challenge? Maybe you've participated in a winter polar plunge or bought a ball or two for a community-dunking booth?


Monday, August 18, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS





I rarely involve myself publicly in controversial subjects and it’s not my intent to do so now. However, I hate dishonorable behavior in those sworn to act in honor. I abhor injustice. I deplore prejudice although I know we all have some within us no matter how hard we try to root it out and I’m not talking  just racial but in all it’s forms.

I’m the first to admit that while our justice system is based on sound principles the execution of those principles is not always equitable, handled in a timely fashion, and there are a few loopholes that you can drive a compact car through, but it is still better than many systems out there. There are those who try to make sure the original legal intent is in place and adjustments for current affairs are fair and impartial. I do believe, however flawed it is, in giving the justice system a chance to work The laws in this country are also based on sound principles and the hardworking police forces through out the country are tasked with keeping law and order within our communities. They’re not perfect and yes, a few march to their own drummer or think they are above the laws they’re tasked with enforcing. Still without such a peace force I shudder to think what we would have to face.

None of these is a perfect system but without them we couldn't function.

Kate Santichen-ABC News
Here in Missouri we currently have a mess. It’s such a sad state of affairs and heartbreaking in so many ways. The scenes coming from here out to the world show a war zone. It looks like something from a third world country in the middle of a revolution and not from a country who touts it’s the home of the free and the brave and with a three hundred and five (305’) foot statute and pedestal declaring “Liberty Enlightening The World.”  I’m afraid things are far from enlightened in parts of St. Louis right now.

It certainly shouldn't be a place an unarmed person can be shot down in the street like a rabid dog by one who took the Oath of Honor (as all police 
Kansas City officers taking the oath.
officers must): 
On my honor,I will never betray my badge1,my integrity, my character, or the public trust.I will always havethe courage to hold myselfand others accountable for our actions.I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.

There is some hard work ahead. Some serious investigations that must take place and ownership of wrongdoing must be accepted. Changes must be made.

My heartfelt thoughts are with all involved—those who grieve, those who again must find their honor, and with those who are tasked with examining the situation and giving justice.


Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Benjamin Franklin 1755


Monday, August 4, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS…





Life has a way of handing out surprises, doesn't it? It’s part of living day to day. Experience has taught me when dealing with life’s ups and downs it’s all about attitude. The right attitude means we take things that happen in stride. By the way, when we stride it means moving (walking, pacing, and crawling—lol!) forward. In other words we don’t let life’s surprises and dilemmas stop us. It’s okay, in my opinion, to pause long enough to assimilate the whatever the issue is and look for the right path to take but never let it trap you in quickset concrete so you can’t move. I’m a firm believer in having good friends and lots of humor to help move you along. J

My funny bone decided to share a few recipes for lemons. Besides, making things with those lemons gives you something constructive to do while thinking things out. J

Lemonade
1gallon

2 cups sugar (l prefer about 1 ½ cups)
1cup hot water
2 cups of fresh lemon juice (4-6 lemons per cup of juice remove seeds but I leave the pulp)      
1 lemon sliced to float in the lemonade

In a gallon container, place sugar and add hot water, and stir until dissolved. Or if you’re one who likes to use simple syrup for your ice tea or lemonade:
In a small saucepan, bring a cup of water to a boil and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Allow it to cool. Can be stored, covered in the refrigerator a few days. 

Add fresh lemon juice and cold water to make up a gallon.

It’s easy to be creative and customize by adding pureed strawberries or raspberries. Or add a cup or two of cranberry juice to the gallon. Makes it pink but adds a refreshing taste to your lemonade.

Glazed Lemon Bread
1 loaf

4 ounces (1 stick) of softened butter
1 cup minus 1 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of honey
2 eggs at room temp (eggs rise better when at room temp)
1 tbsp of lemon zest
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of milk (I use whole milk)
1-½ cups of flour
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Glaze:
¼ cup of lemon juice
1/3-cup sugar
1 tbsp honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.
2. Beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and honey; continue to beat until creamy, a few minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate. On low speed, slowly beat the milk in. Do not worry if the mixture looks a little curdled. Mix in lemon zest.
3. Sift together the flour, salt, cardamom, baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients, beating until smooth.
4. Place batter in prepared pan and bake for 1 hour at 350°F.
5. While the lemon bread is baking, prepare the glaze. Heat the glaze ingredients - lemon juice, sugar, honey - in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved.
6. Once you have removed the bread from the oven, poke holes all over the top with a thin skewer (this will help the glaze penetrate). Spoon the glaze over it while the bread is still in the pan and is still hot. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing to serve.



Have a great week!